Sometimes cinema is at its most potent and engrossing when it’s stripped all the way down to the necessities. Playground, the completed, uncomfortably highly effective first function from the Belgian writer-director Laura Wandel, is a lean 72 minutes in size, with no rating and a lithe, instinctive, handheld digital camera that not often leaves the face of seven-year-old Nora (Maya Vanderbeque, excellent). It’s piercingly insightful with out ever labouring the purpose.
The movie Nora’s well-meaning try and intervene when she sees her older brother Abel (Günter Duret) focused, exploring the way in which that bullying spreads like a stain by means of a major and center college neighborhood; how the taint of victimhood can override the bonds of friendship and household; and the way doing the best factor can backfire catastrophically.
Playground’s French title, Un monde, interprets as “a world”, and the college is simply that: the squat, blocky buildings and treacherous strip of asphalt are a hostile and inescapable surroundings. There isn’t any respite – both for the viewers or for the youngsters who discover themselves outcasts within the semi-feral pack dynamic of childhood.
Frédéric Noirhomme’s digital camera is nearly a personality within the story. It hovers at youngsters’s eye stage, nervy in an unforgiving bluish, bruised color palette, solely often permitting an grownup to slide absolutely into focus. A sympathetic instructor (Laura Verlinden) is one; Nora and Abel’s father and, we assume, principal carer (Karim Leklou) is one other. However equally spectacular is the sound: with the digital camera locked on Nora’s tearful saucer eyes, a lot of the stress is created, vividly, outdoors the body. It’s a exceptional achievement.